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My first FIG Working Week Experience by Annika Joy Avila

FIG Foundation Young Surveyor Grant Recipient to attend the FIG Working Week 2019 in Hanoi, Vietnam

I first heard of the FIG or the International Federation of Surveyors when Engr. Christian B. Clemeno went to our school to give us a seminar. He recounts his story about how he came across it while browsing the internet, from then on I always check their website for the opening of application grants. At first I was really hesitant to apply even though I really wanted it. But with the help of my friends I was able to comply the requirements before the due date of the application. After few weeks, a notification popped-out in my phone from the FIG Foundation that I was one of the grantee who will be attending the FIG Working Week in Hanoi, I was ecstatic at that moment I don't even know what to do next.

FIG Foundation is an organization that grants young surveyors the opportunity to learn and discover more about the field of surveying, helping them by supporting their Masters and Doctorate degrees. They also give opportunities to outstanding surveyors to present their papers in the different conferences organized by the FIG. As for my experience they covered all my expenses from FIG Working Week registration fee to plane tickets, hotel accommodation and food, they also gave me pocket money for other expenses.

Before the FIG Working Week, the Young Surveyors Network organized a two-day event where I met a lot of young professionals from across the world who contributed remarkable developments in the field of surveying. I had the chance to meet the FIG Foundation President, Mr. John Hohol together with my fellow grantee as well.

This photo was taken when Mr. Hohol, in tux, introduced us to the Young Surveyors Network. Beside me is Yohanita (Argentina), Mr. John Hohol (FIG Foundation President), Ruth (USA) and Oju (Nigeria).

We had a lot of topics during the first day of the event, especially how it helped and impacted the development of surveying in their country. In between coffee breaks we had speed dating, we were required to give ourselves a unique pseudo name, then we shuffled the names to be distributed again to us. We cannot have the pseudo name that we gave ourselves since we have to find the person behind it. And it was fun since I actually found out right away the man behind the pseudo name he gave himself, it was Nick from New Zealand aka “stickman”.

During our coffee break, I got the form with the “stickman” pseudo name, and was able to determine right away by the height and the marker used. His name was Nicholas Stillwell, a land surveyor from New Zealand.

During the session 2 of the event, I was assigned to be a session rapporteur to assist Mr. Donmarl Camua, a fellow Filipino who is working in Australia, he was the chairperson of the session.

Ms. Stephanie Michaud of Trimble. Her presentation was about Failing Fast: Leveraging Geospatial Data for Land Pilot Projects.

Mr. Nigel Sellars, works for the Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors. He was talking about Emotional Intelligence.

Mr. Matteo Tataglini, a 3D Land Surveyor and Speoleologist. He was talking about the application of the laser scanner in speleology.

Ms. Nur Zurairah Abd Halim, from Malaysia. Her presentation was about Against the stereotype and become the surveyor you want to be.

Mr. Donmarl Camua, the chairperson of the session “What is resilience? Why does it matter?” (photo not mine)

A photo op with the fellow Filipinos overseas. Far left is Mr. Eduard, Ms. Izzabelle, Mr. Charisma, me, Mr. Donmarl, and Ms. Rhea.

Photo taken after lunch far left is me, Ms. Rhea, Ms. Izzabelle, Mr. Donmarl and Mr. Eduard.

After the event, we went to a Vietnamese restaurant and had a traditional Vietnamese dinner. I was able to have a chat with different people in the network and I learned the comparisons of the different countries in obtaining a license in land surveying. And I was also able to have a chat with the solutions engineer of Esri! The food was great though it was full of herbs.

On our second day of the pre-event, we had an eco-tour. First we set forth on a boat ride in the Tam Coc River, Halong Bay in land. I was just with Ruth and Yohanita during that tour. Then we went to Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam, where the old temples are preserved. I was amazed by how they can take care and preserve carefully their history through a glimpse of this tour. Afterwards, we went back to the Vietnam National Convention Center to perform a charity dance.

Ruth (in floral dress), Yohanita (in pink blouse) and me. We had the opportunity to see and appreciated the beauty of the Halong Bay with caves and rock formations.

I took these photos along Tam Coc River, during our boat ride.

Ivan, our tour guide during our eco-tour, was orienting us the things that will be found inside the Hoa Lu. Photo

Photo opportunity with the beautiful ladies of Young Surveyors Network. (some photos are not mine)

Young Surveyors enjoying the Vietnamese dance basic steps taught to them. (photo not mine)

At night, I attended the Welcome Party of the FIG Working Week 2019 held at the Daewoo Hotel. There were a lot of different people from all around the world that plays a big part in the formation of the FIG. And I was able to meet face to face with Ms. Chryssy Potsiou, the past FIG President and Mr. Rudolf Staiger, the present FIG President.

A photo opportunity with Ms. Chryssy during the welcome party.

After the program, I met with Mr. Rudolf (in tux) together with Mr. Donmarl.

When the FIG Working Week 2019 started, it was officially opened by Mr. Rudolf Staiger. There were opening performances of the different cultures found in Vietnam.

A performance depicting the people found in the central Vietnam.

Mr. Rudolf Staiger cutting the ribbon to officially open the FIG Working Week 2019 in Vietnam with lion dance performances.

After lunch time, the technical sessions of the working week has started. I attended the Mapping the Plastic session chaired by Dr. Mohd Razali Mahmud. This session was about how the speakers was able to map the area especially of the bodies of water that was covered in plastics using surveying instruments. I discovered that Philippines was the fifth country that produces much A photo opportunity with Ms. Chryssy during the welcome party. After the program, I met with Mr. Rudolf (in tux) together with Mr. Donmarl. A performance depicting the people found in the central Vietnam. Mr. Rudolf Steiger cutting the ribbon to officially open the FIG Working Week 2019 in Vietnam with lion dance performances. plastics, though this session needs more development. The manner and the technique used here can be somehow applicable for us.

TJ Lawson showing us how they were able to get the waste and plastics in the different sites they have been to, to support their statistics in how much waste are produced every year around the world.

Ms. Nguyen Thi Thu Trang was showing us the success of Vietnam in reducing the plastics found inland to the coastal with the volunteers and the help of GreenHub officers.

After the session for Mapping the Plastic, we had our coffee break then we went to choose another technical session to attend. Since I was new to the event, I just tag along with fellow young surveyors and attended their session in Connecting the Dots with Ms. Melissa Harrington as the chairperson of the session and the Young Surveyors Network.

We had an activity during the Connecting the Dots session where we have to answer the different questions posted in the wall with a simplest definition or answer.

During the night event, we experienced a Vietnamese cultural performance at the Hanoi Opera House. The performers showcase their talents in playing their own instruments as well as the opera singing.

Different Vietnamese performers representing their cultural kind of music.

The next day, we were invited to attend the Trimble Session where they updated their latest inventions and they had a raffle at the end of the session, the prize was an Apple ipod.

Mr. Boris Skopljak, Marketing Director, Strategy and Analytics of Trimble Geospatial, presenting the accomplishments and latest instruments they have.

After that we went to the History Session and Professional Ethics and Standards Session in the afternoon. In those session I was able to share a little bit of information about the Codes and Conducts of a Geodetic Engineer in the Philippines.

Ms. Daniel Thomas, was presenting the initial explorations in reconstructing the original beacons and boundaries in the Constantia Valley in Cape Town.

Ms. Marina Nistotskaya, presented the issues and solutions in Mapping the State through Cadastral Records.

Ms. Nur Zurairah Abdul Halim, Malaysia, presenting their National Atlas.

Mr. John Brock, introducing William Strata Smith to us as the father or mapping.

Mr. Nigel Sellars, gave us a situation for us to connect with his presentation about the importance of ethics in the surveying profession.


On the third day and the last day of the Plenary Session, Ms. Melissa Harrington, Chair of the FIG Young Surveyors Network, gave their testimony on how they started and how they were able to contribute in the Young Surveyors Network with the session entitled “Everyone Contribution Counts”

After the Plenary Session, I was able to hand out the token I brought from home to the FIG President and FIG Foundation President.

Mr. Rudolf Staiger with Mr. Donmarl beside him, and Mr. John Hohol happily received my vinta token. I also explained to them why it was the thing that I brought.

After the technical sessions for the day, we had our Gala Dinner at the Luc Thuy Restaurant. We were served a traditional cuisine by the locals and amazing presentations. The winners of the grant had reserved separated table with the FIG Foundation President.

It was the last day of the FIG Working Week and Mr. John Hohol happily invited all the grant winners to be up on stage. And even though I was not prepared, at least I was able to construct a short but meaningful appreciation message to everyone. It may have been only a week but the memories were still vivid on my mind. Considering that this was my first time travelling alone, away from home. And this will not be my first and last FIG Working Week, it will only be the beginning.

Mr. John, introducing us to the whole FIG members during the FIG General Assembly. (left photo) And me giving thanks to all the sponsors.

The flag of the FIG has officially turned over to the FIG Amsterdam Committee for the FIG Working Week 2020.

A photo opportunity with my friends during the week. From far left: Yohanita (Argentina), Jacob and Ruth (USA).

A photo opportunity with my friends during the week. Beside me was Ms. Melissa (New Zealand/USA), Jean Pierre (Uganda), Ruth (USA) and Yohanita (Argentina).

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